Price Helps Raise Awareness of Rabies
Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) Assistant Professor of Veterinary Health Science Bonnie Price helps to raise awareness about rabies as part of the National One Health Commission Bat Rabies Education Team.
Price talks about rabies for continuing education conferences to train veterinary staff on how to educate pet owners about rabies risks in Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. Most recently, Price presented in February at the College of Science, Technology and Mathematics at Tusculum University, Greeneville, Tennessee. Her presentation was titled “Toward the Global Eradication of Canine Rabies: Challenges and hope at the interface of human-animal medicine.”
“Every year 50,000-60,000 humans die of rabies around the world, and outside of the U.S. it is mostly caused by canine rabies,” Price said. “The global rabies alliance has a goal to end canine rabies worldwide by 2030. This can be accomplished through widespread vaccination of dogs like we do in the U.S.”
Rabies is a deadly, yet preventable, viral disease that can be transmitted to people by infected mammals, including bats. Bats are an integral part of our ecosystem, serving important roles like pollination, seed dispersal, and eating disease-causing mosquitoes and crop-destroying insects. However, people may be unaware of the health risk that bats can pose to people and pets through the potential transmission of the rabies virus. Not all bats have rabies, but bats are responsible for most human cases of rabies in the Americas.
Since her most recent presentation another zoonotic disease has been dominating news all over the world.
“I think the link between rabies and COVID19 is realizing we need to forge strong interdisciplinary teams to address these complex, multifactorial challenges we are seeing at the interface of humans, wildlife and domestic animals,” Price said. “Promoting strong communication skills and interdisciplinary connections is a big part of what we do in the veterinary science curriculum.”
At LMU there are strong collaborations among faculty working on interdisciplinary projects in Allied Health Science, the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Mathematics and Sciences.
“Over the last century, science and medicine has become more specialized,” Price said. “Often academics and physicians work in very specific fields, or silos, with little collaboration with other professionals. Rabies in the U.S. is a great example of a One Health success story.”
Through a greater understanding of how the virus moved between and affected domestic animals, wildlife and humans, human deaths in this country were reduced to 0-3 on average each year. This requires the ongoing efforts of professionals from not only veterinary and human medicine, but also public health professionals, laboratory biologists, environmental scientists, wildlife experts and more.
“We can take the lessons of the U.S. canine rabies eradication and apply them to not only decreasing canine rabies worldwide, but also apply these principles of interdisciplinary collaboration to prepare for and respond to other One Health challenges, such as COVID-19,” Price said.
Price is the Chair of the Veterinary Health Science and Technology Department for the LMU School of Allied Health Science. Before training in veterinary public health, she completed her undergraduate work in anthropology and participated in primate fieldwork and conservation studies throughout Central America and West Africa, which fostered a strong commitment to culturally competent and multidisciplinary approaches to improve health and wellness at the interface of animals, humans and the environment. Her teaching includes courses such as Zoonotic Disease, Wildlife Disease and The Human Animal Bond. She lectures for undergraduates across multiple disciplines - including pre-med, pre-vet, nursing and conservation biology - with the goal of creating interdisciplinary collaborations very early in students’ training. She is also active in mentoring student leadership groups on campus. In addition to her work with undergraduates, she lectures on food safety for the LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine. Price earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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